A rivalry between Michael Jordan and Gary Payton in the mid 1990s was chronicled in the much-hyped ‘Last Dance’ documentary.
One standout moment came when Jordan laughed at and dismissed the notion that Payton ever gave him serious trouble defensively.
In the ‘Last Dance’ Payton maintained that when he faced off against Jordan in the 1996 NBA Finals, he was able to wear the Chicago Bulls legend down. He further insisted that it was a “turning point” in the series.
Jordan’s response to that theory spoke for itself.
— ESPN (@espn) May 11, 2020
This week, in a Bleacher Report AMA session, Payton fired back.
“It’s like this to me,” he said. “He wouldn’t be Michael Jordan if he would have bowed down there. Everybody knows about his competitiveness. He was a guy who came every night to play. I respect him for that because I came every night to play. I was never gonna back down to him and he knew that.
“If it was my documentary and they asked me the same thing I would have laughed too and been like ‘no he couldn’t go at me neither.’ Every night I played Michael Jordan he brought the best out of me,” Payton continued.
“Wish I could have started off on him in the championship and it would have been better, but their team was better than mine at the time and they won it all. He did a documentary, he felt the way he felt. What I can do is I can say the same thing hahaha.”
While Payton did an admirable job against Jordan in that Finals series, the fact that Chicago won, and with relative ease, speaks for itself.
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— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2021
That said, Payton handled the ‘Last Dance’ in a much more level-headed way than most others.
Jordan got brutally honest about a lot of things in the ‘Last Dance,’ and whether people like it or not, his dismissiveness of Payton was just more of that.